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Aquaculture farmer

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Summary of occupation

Aquaculture farmers rear fish and other aquatic livestock such as oysters, marron, crayfish and prawns. They may work in the open seas or in specially prepared areas such as tanks, dams or shallows that contain cages. They inspect the livestock and ensure healthy growing conditions by checking the oxygen levels and temperature of the water, and make sure that it's free from contamination. They determine when to harvest their livestock, and oversee its harvesting, grading and transportation. They also organise the sale of their stock and manage the business side of their farm.

ANZSCO description: Plans, organises, controls, coordinates and  performs farming operations to breed and raise fish and other aquatic stock.
Alternative names: Seafood Farmer
Specialisations: Fish Farmer, Hatchery Manager (Fish), Mussel Farmer, Oyster Farmer
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

An aquaculture farmer needs:

  • a love of water and the sea
  • to enjoy working outdoors in all weather conditions
  • practical skills and an enjoyment of manual tasks
  • good problem-solving skills
  • organisational skills
  • the ability to co-ordinate the activities of others.
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Working conditions

Aquaculture farmers work either in boats on the open sea or in hatcheries. They work in all weather conditions and often need to work early and long hours, particularly during harvesting. They may also spend time in offices undertaking administrative tasks.

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Salary details

On average, aquaculture farmers can expect to earn between $1 000 and $1 249 per week ($52 000 and $64 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As an aquaculture farmer develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

Aquaculture farmers may operate fishing vessels and the harvesting machinery onboard these vessels. They may also operate tanks, ponds, open-water cages and other enclosures. They may be required to operate scuba equipment if their farming operation requires diving. They also use ropes, knives, winches, hydraulic machinery and fish-feeding machinery.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become an aquaculture farmer you usually need to complete a formal qualification in aquaculture or marine science.

VET courses in aquaculture are offered at TAFE Colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia.

You can also complete a traineeship. The equipment and facilities officer – aquaculture, stock production and harvesting officer – aquaculture, leading hand – aquaculture, and manager/team leader – aquaculture traineeships usually take 24 to 36 months to complete.

You can complete a science degree with a major in marine science, marine and freshwater biology or a related field.

Most universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

In Western Australia, you are required to have a licence to operate an aquaculture farm. Contact the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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Mussel farming involves managing growth cycle of mussels including seeding, re-seeding and harvesting to produce healthy, meaty mussels for consumption.

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